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  • Writer's pictureCoralee Shaman

The heat is on: Second wave lifestyle tips

Every fall I gave my clients tips about how to keep their skin hydrated during the furnace seasons. I also offered tips about how to mentally adjust to the shorter days, but the usual advice isn’t going to cut it as we navigate our way through the second wave of the pandemic.

We knew that the end of summer and outdoor activities would result in a spike in cases, but I think some people fully grasped how quickly COVID-19 can spread. We will get through this extraordinary challenge by listening to the experts, following public health orders, and taking care of our health.

Taking care of our skin and our health are one and the same. So, the tips I offer will help boost your immunity and keep your skin healthy.

Make sure you’re meeting your daily requirements for Vitamins C & D

I have written about the antioxidative power of vitamin C several times. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals and gives cells the boost they need to regenerate. It plays a role in mitigating damage caused by harmful UV rays and environmental pollutants. It also helps support a healthy immune system. If you eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, you will get the Vitamin C you need for optimal health. The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women.

As the days get shorter, we may have to turn to supplements to meet our vitamin D requirements. When we’re exposed to sunshine, our skin makes vitamin D. Vitamin D keeps our bones and muscles healthy and it also plays a role in immunity. Vitamin D may already be on your radar because infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci recommended taking supplements because being deficient makes you more susceptible to infection.

There are many hardy Winnipeggers who bundle up and do outdoor activities even when it’s -40, but it's unlikely they have enough skin exposed for their bodies to make vitamin D. You can also get vitamin D from eating fatty fish, eggs and milk; however, we may not meet our daily requirement through diet alone. Most of us would do well to pick up some inexpensive Vitamin D3 drops and take a daily dose of 1000 IU.

Practise good hand hygiene but don’t overdo it with the hand sanitizer

We must keep our hands clean to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Whenever possible, use good old-fashioned soap and water. It’s easier on the skin and is less likely to disrupt a healthy microbiome. When you use hand sanitizer, apply a moisturizer right after to prevent your hands from drying out and getting fissures. If you have eczema or psoriasis, hand sanitizer is not a good option for you. Strive to find workarounds. When you damage your skin’s moisture barrier, you are at risk for pathogens entering. That can cause infections such as cellulitis which can spread lymph nodes and bloodstream, potentially becoming life-threatening.

Now for a cautionary tale. One of my clients* struggles with eczema flareups on her hands. The triggers are stress and harsh soaps. After using hand sanitizer for one month, my client’s hands were in rough shape. Our skin hosts an ecosystem of beneficial and harmful bacteria. Most of the time the harmful pathogens don’t cause us any problems, but if we have inflamed, weeping skin, pathogens may enter. That was the case for my client and the infection spread quickly. Fortunately, she got to the hospital in time and received IV antibiotics.

It is much easier to maintain a healthy skin barrier than to repair a damaged one. Now that the heat is on, most of us will struggle with dryness. Hand sanitizers will exacerbate the problem. If you’re noticing cracks, pick up a barrier repairing cream such as La Roche-Posay’s Cicaplast Mains barrier repairing cream. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and use humidifiers.

As always, I am here to answer your questions and make customized recommendations based on your needs. Stay safe, my friends!

*My client not only gave me permission to share her story, she encouraged me to blog about it.

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